Zach Ward | Australian National University

Today, English fluency is one of the most important skills for migrants to acquire, but has this always been the case? I estimate the English fluency premium and the rate at which migrants acquired English skills in the early 20th century United States. English fluency led to a small (5 to 9%) increase in occupational-based earnings between 1900 and 1930 - the premium has increased fivefold between 1900 and 2010. At the same time, newly created panel data suggests that the rate of English fluency acquisition has been slowing over the past 100 years.

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